Even writing it makes my upper lip curl with the yuckiness of it.
I have mounds of paperwork, legal documents and reports that refer to Stacey as *severely retarded*, or having *severe mental retardation* and I get it. Retard by definition means slow.
re·tard verb riˈtärd/
delay or hold back in terms of progress, development, or accomplishment.
“his progress was retarded by his limp” delay, slow down, slow up, hold back, hold up, set back, postpone, put back, detain, decelerate
Given the definition of the word, it is accurate that Stacey can be described as retarded in her development and skills. Okay, then what does it mean when someone calls another, or even themselves “Retard”? I hear it often… “I can’t believe I fell for that sales gimmick, I’m such a retard!” or, “you totally fell for that, you retard!” Or “I can’t do Zumba, I look so retarded out there!”
A quote from r-word.org says it best:“When they were originally introduced, the terms “mental retardation” or “mentally retarded” were medical terms with a specifically clinical connotation; however, the pejorative forms, “retard” and “retarded” have been used widely in today’s society to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, when “retard” and “retarded” are used as synonyms for “dumb” or “stupid” by people without disabilities, it only reinforces painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities being less valued members of humanity.
If “retarded” can describe Stacey, and all those with developmental delays, and people use it in a derogatory way, how is that supposed to be taken? When someone says it like that, they don’t mean it as a compliment.
I’m going to be blunt… Stop it. Don’t use it. Delete it from your vocabulary. If you can give me a positive way you mean it, then let’s talk. If you say “oh, I don’t mean it like that”… then please, tell me, how do you mean it? I’d love to hear it! I mean really… you get an A on a test… “I’m such a retard” doesn’t fit. You get awards for dancing well, “I dance like a retard”, nope, doesn’t fit either. You see, it’s not known to be a kind, positive, encouraging word when used the way you use it. It is however, used to describe my daughters symptoms of her missing part of her brain. It’s not her fault. Stop misusing the word.
Will you help me delete the negative R word? Spread awareness of how hurtful it can be to many people when used the way it so commonly is? This is her birthday week… Will you join me in an awareness campaign? It’s simple, on your hand, write an R with Ø over it. When people ask what it’s for, explain it to them! You can also change your profile picture to this as well, and of course you may share this blog and her Facebook page!
Now, having said all that, When I see the way Stacey unconditionally loves, freely laughs, oozes joy from the depth of her heart, works incredibly hard just to learn basic skills and her faith like a child, makes me think we should all aspire to be like her!
By the way, stop by the r-word website and take the pledge! Put High Fives for Stacey in as the school/organization name and let’s see how many of us take the pledge this year!
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Comment below if you will participate in deleting the r-word from common speech! Link back to the places you use the photo to educate others!